The Latest: Turkey opens 2 hospitals for virus patients
The Latest on the coronavirus pandemic. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
TOP OF THE HOUR:
— Turkey opens COVID-19 hospitals.
— Pandemic doesn’t stop Yosemite student newspaper.
— Italy registers 355 new cases, 75 more deaths.
— China to provide 30 million testing kits a month to African countries.
ANKARA, Turkey — Two hospitals for coronavirus patients were opened in Istanbul as Turkey’s daily number of new cases fell to its lowest since the peak of the outbreak.
“Thank God, we prevented the spread of the pandemic even without needing the additional capacity we created here,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday as he opened a 1,008-bed hospital, built over 45 days on the site of the former Ataturk airport.
Turkey recorded 839 cases over the previous 24 hours, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted, taking the total to 163,942 since the first infection was announced on March 11. There were 25 coronavirus-related deaths over the same period, bringing the toll to 4,540.
Turkey ranks 10th worldwide for the number of virus cases, according to John Hopkins University, although experts believe the rate of infections globally could be much higher than reported.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, California — Yosemite National Park has been closed to the public for nearly three months and a few dozen lucky children have had it mostly to themselves. They are student journalists who put out the Yosemite Valley School newspaper.
Their parents are Yosemite’s essential staff who live in a residential area of the park and are watching over it while it’s closed.
The pandemic hasn’t stopped the presses on the school year’s last edition of “The Yosemite Eye.” The publication has charmed its community and has a circulation of 5,000.
Naturally, the upcoming June edition will feature some stories on coronavirus, from the children’s perspective.
Talleulah Barend, a fifth grader, is writing about how video games are helping people socialize. There is a story on making masks, and a word search featuring coronavirus keywords, like “Zoom.” Graduating eighth graders who are leaving to attend a high school outside the park usually get to give speeches. The paper will publish those.
ROME — Italy registered 355 new coronavirus cases and 75 deaths, some of the lowest such numbers since the nation’s lockdown against the pandemic began in early March. Italy now totals 233,019 known cases of COVID-19 and 33,415 deaths.
But health experts say many people with no or mild symptoms likely didn’t get tested and note that many died in residences for the elderly or in their own homes also without being tested for the virus. The latest figures from the health ministry come three days before Italy lifts a lockdown rule against travel for tourism between Italian regions and from most European countries.
This prospect has made some governors nervous in regions which have been relatively less hard hit in the pandemic. Sicily’s governor, Nello Musemeci told the Corriere della Sera daily that if vacationers come from places like northern Lombardy, Italy’s most stricken region, they should be prepared to indicate “day-by-day” whereabouts so they can be traced while visiting the Mediterranean island in case of infection.
For 10 days straight, Lombardy has been the only region in the country with daily increases of cases in the three digits, registering 210 confirmed infections in patients in the 24-hour period ending Sunday.
JOHANNESBURG — South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says that China has pledged to make available 30 million COVID-19 testing kits per month to African countries, which are facing a shortage of the materials to test for the disease.
Ramaphosa, currently the chairman of the African Union, told journalists that Chinese President Xi Jinping had pledged that Chinese companies would make available the testing kits as well as 10,000 ventilators per month and 80 million masks per month to African countries.
Ramaphosa didn’t specify if the equipment would be donated or sold to African countries. South Africa, which has the continent’s highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 at 30,967 and 643 deaths, has faced a shortage of testing kits and other equipment.
The shortage of testing materials and ventilators has been a problem for all the countries of Africa, which have had to compete with richer countries for the equipment. The coronavirus is spreading steadily but relatively slowly across Africa, with the continent’s 54 countries reporting 141,535 cases and 4,069 deaths, according to figures provided Sunday by the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
LONDON — Britain has announced new plans to help the homeless, pledging to provide 6,000 new “supported homes’’ as the country moves to lift the lockdown put in place to stall COVID-19.
The measure builds on the work of a task force that succeeded in bringing 15,000 homeless people off the streets and into hotels during the pandemic.
The head of task force, Louise Casey, warned that “the pandemic is not over” and vulnerable people must still be protected.
But she praised the “absolutely extraordinary response” from charities and businesses. She says it has been “a heartening example of what we can do when we need to do it, and the best of Britain in this time of crisis.”
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said Sunday that the government is offering 433 million pounds ($534 million) for the new accommodation.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai’s long-haul carrier Emirates says it fired an undisclosed number of employees as the coronavirus pandemic has halted global aviation.
That makes it the latest Mideast airline to shed staff over the outbreak. Emirates is the jewel of the sheikhdom’s vast array of state-link enterprises known as “Dubai Inc.” to diplomats and investors.
The airline declined to offer figures on how many staff it fired after releasing its statement acknowledging the firings on Sunday.
MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says he will ask Spain’s Parliament for a final two-week extension of the nation’s state of emergency that has allowed the government to take lockdown measures to control its coronavirus outbreak.
Sánchez says this will be “the last, definitive extension of 15 days.”
The current state of emergency is set to expire on June 7. The government will ask for the extension in the coming days.
The lockdown measures have succeeded to reining in a COVID-19 outbreak that has claimed at least 27,000 lives in Spain.
Sánchez says this final stretch of the lockdown will include the handing back of control over health care to the regions that have shown the most progress in containing the virus.
“We have almost reached safe harbor,” Sánchez said.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis cheerfully greeted people in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, as he resumed his practice of speaking to the faithful there for the first time since a coronavirus lockdown began in Italy and at the Vatican in early March.
“Today the square is open, we can return to it with pleasure,’’ Francis said.
Instead of the tens of thousands of people who might have turned out on a similarly brilliantly sunny day like in pre-pandemic times, perhaps a few hundred came to the square on Sunday, standing well apart from others or in small family groups.
Until June 3, people aren’t allowed to travel between regions in Italy or arrive from abroad for tourism, so the people in the square came from Rome or places in the region.
Francis cited those who have been infected by the virus or who died in the Amazon region, especially the “particularly vulnerable” indigenous people. He prayed that no one in the world lack medical assistance, especially due to economic priorities.
“Persons are more important than the economy,” Francis said.
Noting this was the first time he could greet people in the square for weeks, Francis said that “one doesn’t emerge from a crisis the same. You either come out better or you come out worse.” He said he’d be back to greet them next Sunday in the same place at noon, smiling and pointing down to the vast square far below his studio window.
BEIJING — A German engineer who flew to China on a special charter flight Saturday has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Tianjin city government said in a social media post that the 34-year-old man from Blaustein, Germany, had a body temperature of 36.3 Celsius (97.3 Fahrenheit) and no COVID-19 symptoms. It did not give his name. He has been transferred to a hospital where he will be kept for medical observation.
About 200 people arrived on the chartered Lufthansa A340 from Frankfurt. A second flight is scheduled to depart on Wednesday for Shanghai.
China has banned most foreigners from entering the country to try to prevent the introduction of new infections, but agreed to allow the two German flights to bring back businesspeople as it tries to revive economic growth after the coronavirus shutdowns.
MOSCOW — Russia reported 9,268 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, the first time in a week that the daily tally exceeded 9,000, but the lowest death toll in several days: 138.
Overall, Russia has recorded 405,843 cases and 4,693 deaths from COVID-19. The relatively low mortality rate compared with other countries has prompted skepticism domestically and abroad.
In a bid to dispel suspicions that authorities are trying to lower the death toll for political reasons, Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova explained last week that Russia’s count contains only those confirmed to have died directly of the infection, but she also gave figures for people who tested positive for the virus but died of other causes.
ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s daily death toll from the coronavirus is climbing, hitting a new high of 88 overnight, amid reports of acute care bed shortages and near daily warnings from health professionals to tighten lockdown measures.
The government, however, has kept mosques open, urging safe distancing but not enforcing the rules.
In the latest reduction of restrictions, the government has withdrawn the limits on congregations in mosques and churches in Muslim-majority Pakistan, where minorities make up less than 5% of the population of 220 million.
Pakistan has confirmed 69,496 cases of the coronavirus, including 1,483 deaths.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Tens of thousands of mosques across Saudi Arabia have reopened for the first time in more than two months.
Worshipers have been ordered to follow strict guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Islam’s holiest site in Mecca remains closed to the public.
Also Sunday, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem that had been closed since mid-March reopened for prayers. Worshipers waited outside the gates, many wearing surgical masks. As they entered, they were stopped to have their temperature taken.
The new measures come as Saudi Arabia and other countries around the world begin to loosen restrictions following weeks of curfews and lockdowns.
BRISBANE, Australia — COVID-19 restrictions are easing in most of Australia, but authorities say they’ll be watching carefully to ensure the country’s success in containing the pandemic remains on track.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth says the lifting of restrictions is a balancing act between the socio-economic benefit from their removal and the public health risk.
“We’re taking a deliberately safe and cautious approach,” Coatsworth said. “Most importantly we’re taking the time to gather the data over the coming weeks to determine whether it’s safe to move to the next round of lifting restrictions.”
Coronavirus cases remain low in Australia by international standards, with 7,180 infections and 103 deaths.
The more flexible restrictions, which differ across the states, will mean more movement in public places, including pubs, cafes, and restaurants. But authorities have renewed their call for safe hygiene and social distancing measures to remain.
NEW DELHI, India — India has recorded more than 8,000 new cases of the coronavirus in a single day for the first time as the infection tally surged to 182,143.
The death toll climbed to 5,164 after 193 fatalities were recorded in the last 24 hours, according to the health ministry data. This week has been the deadliest in India, with cases of infections and deaths reaching a new high almost every day.
Overall, more than 60% of the country’s virus fatalities have been reported from only two states — Maharashtra, the financial hub of India, and Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The new cases of infections are also largely concentrated in six Indian states, including the national capital New Delhi.
Public health experts have criticized the Modi government’s handling of the outbreak. A joint statement by the Indian Public Health Association, Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine and Indian Association of Epidemiologists, which was submitted to Modi’s office on May 25, said it was “unrealistic” to eliminate the virus at a time when “community transmission is already well-established.”
India has denied of any community transmission of the virus even though new cases have continued to mount significantly.
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea has reported 27 new cases of the coronavirus, including 21 from the densely populated Seoul metropolitan area, where officials have been scrambling to stem transmissions linked to club-goers and warehouse workers.
The figures announced by South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday brought national totals to 11,468 cases and 270 deaths. Twelve of the new cases were linked to international arrivals.
South Korea was reporting about 500 new cases per day in early March but had seemed to stabilize its outbreak with aggressive tracking and tracing, which allowed authorities to ease social distancing guidelines.
But cases in the greater capital area have been rising steadily again since May amid increased public activity, causing alarm as millions of children have begun returning to schools.
BOGOTA, Colombia — The mayor of Colombia’s capital is planning to shut down one of the city’s largest neighborhoods as cases there continue to rise.
Mayor Claudia Lopez said Saturday that starting June 1st the working-class Kennedy area – home to nearly 1.5 million people – will be under a strict quarantine.
Police and military will enforce the lockdown and no one will be allowed out, except to seek food or medical care or in case of an emergency.
Businesses like manufacturing that had been allowed to operate will be ordered closed. Lopez said that testing for the virus will be doubled.
The Kennedy area was inaugurated by late U.S. President John F. Kennedy, who visited Bogota in 1961 as part of the Alliance for Progress.
The area today has more nearly 2,500 cases and hospitals there are reaching maximum capacity.
Lopez said that in the rest of Bogota no new sectors of the economy will be allowed to reopen until at least the middle of June.
ATHENS — Greek officials said Saturday said that the country will not limit incoming tourists to those from a list of 29 nations, but travelers from countries not on the list will be subject to mandatory testing on arrival and a period of quarantine depending on test results.
The policy will only be applied during the final two weeks of June, although Greek authorities left open the prospect of additional restrictions after that date.
The list announced Friday includes Albania, Australia, Austria, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Estonia, Japan, Israel, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lebanon, New Zealand, Lithuania, Malta, Montenegro, Norway, South Korea, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Finland.
Arrivals from those countries will be tested randomly.
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